Green June Beetle

Cotinis nitida

Last updated: March 9, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Sudhakar Bisen/Shutterstock.com

• Green June beetles will appear to mate in early summer, typically in May or June. This is why they are also known as May beetles. Therefore, it is very uncommon to see these beetles any other time.


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Green June Beetle Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Coleoptera
Family
Scarabaeidae
Genus
Cotinis
Scientific Name
Cotinis nitida

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Green June Beetle Conservation Status

Green June Beetle Locations

Green June Beetle Locations

Green June Beetle Facts

Name Of Young
Larvae
Group Behavior
  • Infestation
Fun Fact
• Green June beetles will appear to mate in early summer, typically in May or June. This is why they are also known as May beetles. Therefore, it is very uncommon to see these beetles any other time.
Most Distinctive Feature
Metallic green coloring
Other Name(s)
May beetle, June bug, June beetle
Incubation Period
18 days
Habitat
Agricultural areas, woodland borders, and in homes or gardens
Predators
Birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, and parasitic wasps
Diet
Herbivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Common Name
Green June beetle
Origin
United States and Canada
Average Clutch Size
100
Nesting Location
Underground

Green June Beetle Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Green
Skin Type
Exoskeleton
Lifespan
1 year
Length
0.6 to 0.9 inches

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The green June beetle is also called the June beetle, May beetle, or June bug, and they are abundant in the South of Canada and the eastern United States. These bugs are notorious for their destructive and violent behavior. As a result, they are particularly problematic for farmers in Texas.

Green June beetles are diurnal and will feed on crops and fruits. While they are less than a few inches big, they can cause a lot of damage. These beetles burrow into the soil at night and will emerge at first light. They derived their name from the month they are most active, June. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get rid of these beetles. Farmers have tried numerous strategies, and most are unsuccessful.

Green June Beetle Facts

  • While these beetles are extremely destructive, they are harmless to humans and animals. However, they are terrible flyers and might crash into you.
  • Green June beetles will appear to mate in early summer, typically in May or June. This is why they are also known as May beetles. Therefore, it is very uncommon to see these beetles any other time of the year.
  • Many animals, like birds, bats, parasitic flies, and wasps, prey on the June bug.

Green June Beetle Species, Types, and Scientific Name

The green June beetle’s scientific name is Cotinis nitida, and it belongs to the order Coleoptera, which consists of 360 000 species of beetles and weevils. It is the biggest order in the class Insecta and represents approximately 40% of insect species.

June bugs are members of the family Scarabaeidae. There are over 1000 species of this family in North America alone. While members differ in size, they are instantly identifiable by their oval bodies, scalloped front tibiae, five-segmented tarsi, and lamellate antennae. In addition, they prefer feeding on flowers, plants, and dung.

A beetle very similar to the green June beetle is the figeater beetle (Cotinis mutabilis) which belongs to the same Genus. These two beetles are often mistaken for each other because of their striking resemblance.

Appearance: How To Identify the Green June Beetle

What Do June Bugs Eat - June Bug on Flower

A Green June beetle showing off its metallic green sheen.



©Galina Savina/Shutterstock.com

Green June beetles are a stunning emerald color with golden or tan borders. There are also specs of gold on the wing coverings (elytra). Additionally, they have metallic bellies that are part brown and part green. Furthermore, their big black eyes are perched on either side of their green heads, and they have short brown antennae that split at the tips. Lastly, these green bugs can get pretty big and easily measure over an inch long.

Habitat: Where to Find the Green June Beetle

Due to their ability to fly, the green June beetle can be found almost anywhere. These beetles are diurnal, so they are drawn to lights when they are out at night. However, it’s uncommon to see them during the winter, and they are only generally sighted in May and June.

June bugs are mainly found in agricultural areas, woodland borders, and in homes or gardens. In addition, they are commonly seen near compost heaps, where plenty of decaying plant matter can be eaten. Sometimes large numbers of adult June beetles are seen flying above the ground. However, the larvae live in rich soil or manure.

Diet: What Do Green June Beetles Eat?

In the Southeastern USA, adult June beetles have a varied diet but prefer stone fruit crops like plums and peaches. However, they can also consume quince, nectarines, raspberries, and apples. In addition, they drink from open flowers like blossoms, hollyhocks, and buttercups. While these beetles are not harmful to humans, they bore into ripe fruit and leave behind feces.

Green June Beetle Lifecycle

The green June beetle completes its entire lifecycle in just one year.

Egg

These beetles mate in the early morning. Females attract males by leaving scented milky fluid trails. Mating does not take long, only a few minutes. Once the female is fertilized, she will crawl into her burrow, which is usually built under matted grass. Female June beetles can lay between 60 to 70 eggs in their burrows over a 14-day period. At first, eggs are white in color and have an elliptical shape, but they gradually become more spherical as the larvae start to grow. After around 18 days, the eggs begin to hatch, and white grubs will emerge.

Grubs

Grubs grow to over 1.6 inches long and have a white body with a brownish-black head and brown spirals running down the sides of their bodies. These grubs will molt twice before the temperature decreases before winter. As they grow, they will change color to a shiny yellowish-white, which turns to a bluish-green toward the head and tail. In addition, they have stiff ambulatory bristles on their bodies, which help them with movement, as they generally travel on their backs. They feed off roots, decomposing organic matter, and kill the plants from the bottom up. They are at their most destructive when in their second instar stage and require more food to support their development. The larvae cause significant damage to lawns or turf grass. In fact, they are more dangerous to crops in their larval stage than as adults.

They will start to pupate after the third larval stage, and this phase lasts up to nine months. The larvae will excrete a viscid fluid and fasten it with dirt particles to construct its oval cocoon. At first, the cocoon is white but will develop a green tint just before the beetle emerges.

Adult

The adults start to emerge in May or June, 18 days after they begin to pupate. These beetles are typically 0.6 to 0.9 inches long and 0.5 inches wide. Their color differs from brown with green stripes to metallic green. Additionally, the elytra vary from orange-yellow to light brown.

These beetles prefer to feed on various fruits like:

  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Figs

However, they are more attracted to decomposing or bruised fruit, which is why their larvae are considered more damaging.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of Green June Beetle

There are several ways to prevent and remove green June beetles from your home; they include:

Natural Traps

You can make your own green June beetle trap from a large container with a wide-opening funnel top and some fruit juice. The beetles will enter the container and travel down to the juice but won’t be able to escape.

Introduce Natural Predators

While introducing natural predators won’t eliminate the entire population of June bugs, they do significantly reduce the numbers. Parasitic wasps are a good option as they burrow into the ground and paralyze the larvae before laying eggs on them. Once these wasp eggs hatch, they will start to feed on the grub. Other predators include:

You can encourage these predators to move to your garden by providing them with a water source, shelter, and feeders.

BT

BT is an effective naturally occurring bacteria that will kill grubs when applied to flowerbeds and grass. It is organic and harmless to humans and pets, which benefits everyone. However, only use this product for severe infestations, and it should always be used with caution.

Take Care of Your Garden

Help mask dead turf and encourage recovery by maintaining a healthy lawn. In addition, if damage to your grass begins to appear, overseed with grass seed to promote rapid growth. Additionally, Continuous turf irrigation during June will deter females from laying their eggs beneath the soil, and if you have fruit, harvest them early and discard fallen fruit.

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

Green June Beetle FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you get rid of green June beetle?

You can make your own green June beetle trap from a large container with a wide-opening funnel top and some fruit juice. The beetles will enter the container and travel down to the juice but won’t be able to escape.

How rare is a green June beetle?

No, they are not rare. While they only come out during the summer (May and June), they occur all over the world and are considered pests.

What attracts green June beetles?

In the Southeastern USA, adult June beetles have a varied diet but prefer stone fruit crops like plums and peaches. However, they can also consume quine, nectarines, raspberries, and apples. In addition, they drink from open flowers like blossoms, hollyhocks, and buttercups.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Oklahoma State University, Available here: https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/digital-diagnostics/insects-and-arthropods/green-june-beetle-cotinis-nitida/
  2. Biology Wise, Available here: https://biologywise.com/interesting-facts-about-june-bugs
  3. Study.com, Available here: https://study.com/learn/lesson/june-bug-life-cycle-facts-characteristics.html

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